Let's talk about hip-openers—whether you surrender to them or struggle with them, they can be an amazing tool for letting go, both physically and mentally. You've probably heard in yoga class that we carry a lot of emotions in our hips, and while it may not be backed by science, those feelings of vulnerability that often come up in a pose like pigeon are so real. The next time you're feeling especially tight in the hips or need to tap into your emotions, try opening your hips with one of the poses below (after a solid warmup or stretch session!).
If you're a beginner, try...
Standing Pigeon (Tada Kapotasana)
Get into a figure four, placing one ankle over the knee with a flexed foot, and slowly sit back into chair pose with a straight spine. Hold your hands at your heart or reach them over your head, hold for however long you like, then switch legs. This pose is great for yogis at any stage of their practice, so if you need a quick and effective hip stretch, you can't go wrong with Standing Pigeon.
If you're somewhere in between, try...
Head to Knee Variation (Janu Sirsasana)
After you've warmed up your hamstrings, and maybe held a few Standing Pigeons, give your hips some extra love with this variation of a forward fold. With your front leg straight and your back leg at a 90-degree angle, reach your hands to the sky and slowly reach forward with a long spine. If this is too difficult, try angling your front foot at 90 degrees and fold over your leg.
If you have an advanced practice, try...
If you're already pretty open in your hips, this posture is a great way to end your yoga practice or switch up your go-to meditation position. Extend both legs straight and bring one foot in, cradling your knee and ankle, and gently place it over your opposite thigh, then repeat with the other leg. Feel free to zen out for as long as feels right.